What happened to Khalil Mack?
He was expected to challenge for the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year, but so far this year, he has seemed invisible. However, it is not solely on him. A defensive unit is dependent on each other to play plays, and right now, every part of the Raiders defense is not performing well. With that being said, here are some reasons why Khalil Mack has not recorded a sack yet.
Anytime a quarterback takes a five- or seven-step drop, they are double teaming Mack with either with a tight end and an offensive tackle (like in the above clip) or with an offensive tackle and guard. On top of that, teams are also chipping him with running backs and sliding protections to him. They will not let him beat them.
Unfortunately, even with less receivers running routes, the secondary isn’t holding up. When Mack gets double teamed by two offensive linemen it means that the other three defensive linemen are getting single blocked, and one of them has to make a play.
The Raiders run defense is terrible right now, and the defense is trying to compensate by being extra aggressive. This leaves the defense susceptible to play-action fakes, particularly, boot legs. The Raiders defensive scheme also requires that the backside outside linebacker has backside contain and flat responsibilities.
So when teams threaten contain with a quarterback boot and release a receiver in the flats, the backside end ends up with a conflict of responsibility. Needless to say, this puts Mack in a no-win situation. Ken Norton Jr. and Jack Del Rio have to scheme up a way to free up the Raiders outside linebacker from covering the flats.
The Raiders have attempted to use stunts with Mack to create more pressure, but their stunts are ineffective, as they often time just gets Mack into an area with more blockers. A better stunt might be to have him knife inside of the tackle to try to create interior pressure then have a defensive tackle loop outside to contain the quarterback.
When Mack has an opportunity to rush one-on-one, he still is able to dominate. On this play, Matt Ryan drops back, and they actually leave Mack one-on-one with the right tackle. He effortlessly blows by the tackle, but a receiver is open right away and Ryan easily completes the pass.
In order for him to regain his dominant form, he will need help from his coaches and teammates. The secondary has to hold up for a little longer and his coaches have to tweak the scheme to let Mack play loose. Mack is still a dominant player and with some help, we’ll see him terrorize offenses again.